| PET GAZETTE | RETAIL ADVICE
DOES YOUR BUSINESS
NEED TO ADAPT?
In this month’s issue, Nicola Ravensford looks at making
your business adaptable and able to cope to any situation
n the spirit of it being ‘Brexit month’ and the looming
date of 29 March - which at the time of writing this,
no one has a crystal ball to see what changes will
happen - let’s take a look at that all important, but
often overlooked, skill within our business. Adaptation,
improvisation and the ability to overcome.
“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the
strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is
able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in
which it finds itself…” so says Charles Darwin in Origin of Species.
When we run a business there are many environmental factors which
can change during its course, some good, some bad, some we see
coming and some that completely blindside us. The current challenges
are some of the largest seen by UK industry in a generation and our
sector is no different. We go through some of the bigger potential issues
in this month’s article.
Our current challenge is leaving the European Union. Right now as
you read this there are thousands of pallets of German frankfurters,
French cheese and Italian car parts in storage up and down the M4
corridor from Swindon to Guildford. They have been there for months.
I know this because my team have been part of the intense mission
to find storage for pet-related European products in amongst the
thousands of other industry sectors looking for the same pre-Brexit
overstock space. Stockpiling in the UK is just one adaptation to the up
and coming split and one way to deal with the void of information.
Others have frozen pricing for customers for reassurance. Some are
just letting the wind blow and see what’s left to pick up once the storm
has passed - this is not advisable. One thing is for certain; we will all
need to react quickly. If you have been in business a good while then
you will have seen the automation of systems, the boom of social media
and the growth of online sales.
Interestingly I still meet companies every month who operate with
no website, social media presence and manually manage their stock.
However your business runs you should now have a plan in place for
the coming months. Don’t get caught out without some kind of fall back.
Even if it’s a few thousand tucked away to keep the bills paid, we all
need to be ready.
Adaptation to other species – The pet industry has trends that govern
popularity of products with a species demographic and with specific
pets. Exotics such as reptiles, birds and fish come and go. Dogs and
cats remain steady in their ownership but products and husbandry
trends move and evolve. Keep your eye on these trends over the next
year. Certain species and products might become harder to source, that
could either be a hazard to avoid, or an opportunity to exploit for your
Adaptation to competition – What happens when you suddenly
have someone open up in your town who has the same customer
demographic as you? Previously you had no competition so did not
need to dedicate any extra thinking time to your strengths, weakness
or how you will plan your next 12 months. Even if you are the only horse
shoe salesman in a one horse town, and you own the horse, you need
to be ready for competition to arrive and challenge you.
Brand adaptation – How a business starts is not often how a business
will be in three years. As you find your niche within the market that
may change many of the customer facing elements such as a name,
company colours, logo etc. These should be adaptable as the way you
communicate with clientele and your customers’ tastes change with time.
What can you do to keep on top of it? The truth is that where you
are aware of the changes you can be proactive. Weigh up the
considerations around your business for risk, level of control you have
etc. If there is a degree of ambiguity, assign resource in the form of
thinking time, expert opinion, extra staffing hours to make sure that you
have a plan to take on the changes you face.
In the past 12 months we have seen some business in the pet services
industry need to adapt to the legislation in the case of Animal Activities
Licensing Regulations. This is an example of a very structured change
with plenty of build up to the date in which businesses must adapt to
comply with new rules. In this case a business would need to allocate
additional resource to cover training and implementation.
For the changes that are not clear to us, such as sudden labour
turnover, a competitor opening or a change in the demands of the
marketplace a contingency plan needs to be made. Firstly you need to
lessen your risk to being left behind by these issues in your everyday
operations and in the views of your marketplace. Secondly you need to
have robust systems in place to allow you to quickly react where you
have been unable to be proactive.
Beware the resistance to change – “We’ve always done it this way so
don’t need to change,” mentality is surely the downfall of many. Take
care out there in the coming months, stay true to your course, and keep
your eyes and ears open for danger and opportunity and we will see
how we all fair. Good luck and good business.
Nicola has spent the last 13 years working in the pet retail industry
and is the founder of Ravensford Consultancy Ltd, a company
dedicated to helping business in the pet trade.
“I really love coming up with ideas for creative incentives for
a team. Please feel free to contact me if you would like a little
inspiration for your next company incentive.”
Nicola @ www.ravensfordconsultancy.com